Longtime Radiologist, URMC Educator Dies Suddenly

Jul. 24, 2012

Lawrence Gardner Sahler, M.D., an interventional radiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and one of nine generations of physicians in his family, died suddenly July 20 at his summer home in the Adirondacks. He was 57.

Sahler was a versatile and skilled attending radiologist and was the first in the area to earn advanced certification in vascular-interventional radiology in 1995.

“He was really a jack-of-all-trades radiologist able to support mammography and gastrointestinal radiology, vascular and interventional radiology care. He was very special because he had expertise in multiple things, which is unusual in this setting,” said David Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Imaging Sciences.

Sahler was a private practice radiologist at St. Mary’s Hospital and Rochester General Hospital before he joined the URMC faculty in 1993. Deeply committed to providing compassionate care, he practiced the tenets of patient- and family-centered care long before it became a national movement to improve care and communications in healthcare settings. He often used humor to put patients at ease.

His style was a positive example for medical students and residents he regularly guided. “He was a tireless educator and resident advocate, and the kindness and respect with which he treated his colleagues should serve as an example to all. Having worked closely with Dr. Sahler in recent years, I am deeply saddened by the loss of a mentor,” said Jack McGrath, M.D., chief resident in Imaging Sciences.

Sahler’s interest in education led him to serve on the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry admission committee from 2007-2010 and the Imaging Sciences residency admission committee. 

The Rochester native graduated from Florida’s University of Miami and completed the Rochester General Hospital School of Medical Technology. He worked in clinical laboratories, pathology/autopsy and radiology departments before joining URMC working in radiology research into new contrast media. 

He earned his medical degree at New York Medical College in 1988 and completed a radiology residency at Rochester General Hospital and then a Fellowship in vascular-interventional radiology at URMC.

Sahler supported radiology departments in many community hospitals in the region, including Highland, F.F. Thompson, Rochester General, Newark-Wayne, Myers, St. Mary’s, Geneva General, Lakeside, Monroe Community and Unity hospitals, along with the former Genesee Hospital. He also worked at the Veterans’ Administration centers in Rochester, Canandaigua and Bath.

An avid outdoorsman, Sahler enjoyed hiking, bicycling, golf, scuba diving and photography and had a strong passion for the Adirondacks.

He and his wife, Karen, have two grown children, Christopher and Julie. Sahler is also survived by two brothers and a sister, in-laws, and many other extended family members.

Sahler’s children are both working in the medical field, carrying on his family’s 227-year tradition of becoming physicians. His son is a chief resident at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, bringing it to nine generations of doctors. His daughter is also working toward a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at University of Rochester.

A private burial was held at Blue Mountain Lake. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, P.O. Box 65, 8 Nature Way, Keene Valley, N.Y., 12943, or the Blue Mountain Lake Volunteer Ambulance Corps, P.O. Box 207, Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. 12812.